Adirondack Health offers innovative tools to detect lung cancer at earliest stages
CAPTION: Medical Imaging Director Phil Pizzola answers questions from a patient receiving a Low-Dose CT exam (LDCT) at Adirondack Medical Center. The LDCT exam is an innovative tool being used to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages.
Much like breast cancer, early detection is key to successful treatment
SARANAC LAKE – Adirondack Health now offers two innovative tools in the early detection and treatment of lung cancer.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now provides coverage for low dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening for seniors at high-risk for the disease, giving access to care that can save more lives than any cancer screening test in history. Available at Adirondack Health, this cost effective low dose CT screening is proven to reduce lung cancer deaths by catching the disease before there are symptoms.
“Adirondack Health is excited to be able to offer this proven, affordable screening for people at high-risk for lung cancer,” said Philip Pizzola, Medical Imaging Program Director. “Our physicians are eager to provide this screening test for patients, and we all look forward to helping with early detection.”
In addition, new technology known as navigational bronchoscopy provides thoracic surgeon Dr. Michael Hill, Chief of Surgery, an advantage in the early diagnosis and treatment of lung disease. This minimally invasive procedure uses GPS technology, similar to navigation systems used in vehicles, to help surgeons access hard-to-reach areas of the lung with great accuracy. This procedure is used to obtain lung tissue for biopsy, diagnosis and early treatment.
The first step for people with a high risk of developing lung cancer is to undergo a low dose CT scan of the chest. This produces detailed images needed to detect many lung diseases and abnormalities while using up to 90 percent less radiation than a conventional chest CT scan. CMS will cover low-dose CT screening exams for individuals aged 55-77 years with a 30 pack-year smoking history who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. One pack-year equals smoking one pack per day for one year; one pack is 20 cigarettes. A physician referral is needed for a low-dose CT screening exam.
The benefits of low dose CT of the chest include:
- Nodules found by screening with low-dose CT are often at the earliest, most treatable stage of the disease.
- Scanning is fast, which is important for patients who have trouble holding their breath.
- Scanning is painless and non-invasive.
- Screening with low-dose CT has been proven to reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer in patients at high risk.
- When cancer is found with screening, patients can more often undergo minimally invasive surgery with less lung tissue removed.
Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cancer killer. More than 220,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year; nearly 160,000 people will die from the disease. That number is more than breast, colon and prostate cancer deaths combined. Much like early detection has vastly improved the ability to successfully treat breast cancer for women, earlier detection of lung cancer can significantly assist in treatment and improved outcomes.
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JOE RICCIO, Communications Director
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